Every year in July, we reflect on the previous year as part of our Annual General Meeting (AGM). We hoped this year's meeting would take place in person, looking back over a rollercoaster of a year with a refreshing beverage at Tyne Bank Brewery. Alas, keeping everyone safe is a priority so we gathered online to look back and summarise the findings of our annual report.   

Here are some extracts which are taken from the report. 

Chief Officer's report

Following a quite alarming end to 2019-20, when the Trust was forced to close its doors as a result of the Covid pandemic, we began the year with an entirely different and unpredictable set of new challenges.

Having successfully and proudly eliminated our reliance on grant funding in recent years, we once again found the need to source financial support to mitigate our lost income and ensure the business remained viable as we emerged out of lockdown and could trade again.

Early during the pandemic, we were faced with a choice of whether to shut completely and make as many financial savings as possible or to continue to do our best to support the community, residents, businesses and visitors to the Ouseburn and maintain our profile and seek the resource to make this possible.

We unanimously chose the latter and began exploring funding sources. Initially, as a trading charity, we were ineligible for both the small business grants and the support for more traditional charities, but soon funds were provided that met our needs and we were fortunate to secure enough to mitigate our losses. We accessed government furlough support and local authority administered government grants for businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector, we secured funding from the National Lottery’s Power to Change Fund created specifically for trading community charities. We secured further funding from the North of Tyne Combined Authority to ensure our resilience.

We also were successful in applying for a grant from Historic England to develop a virtual offer – something we had discussed in the past to serve the needs of a broader audience who could not take part in our activities for reasons of mobility or anxiety especially in the case of an underground tour. This was clearly exactly what was needed at a time when no one could visit and proved not only popular for our visitors but very important for us.

Our online activities have enhanced our visibility, which as we eventually emerge from restrictions will stand us in good stead as we relaunch traditional tours, walks and talks.

We were fortunate throughout the year in terms of tenant security, although all of our customer-facing activity, such as Tunnel tours, walks and talks and car park visits vanished overnight.

Despite a brief period during the summer of 2020, when we were able to relaunch some face-to-face activities we were still restricted by numbers and the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the visiting public, our staff, and volunteers.
Even by the end of 2020-21, we are still not yet out of the woods, and require further support to help us manage until the vaccination roll-out means we can return to regular activity levels.

Previous reports of project plans and strategy development will therefore take a back seat in this report, replaced instead by some incredible firefighting skills demonstrated by a very committed staff and volunteer team, who succeeded in navigating us through the challenges we faced.

Chris Barnard
Chief Officer | July 2021

Financial comparison

When comparing our income sources from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, you can see just how drastically we've had to adapt. Although visitor income was slashed this past year, we were fortunate enough to plug the gap with grant funding. 

How will these pie charts compare next year? 

Financial comparison 2019 - 2020 to 2020 - 2021

Our impact

Part of the funding we received through the VCSE Resilience Fund in 2020 was allocated to support from an independent consultant.
Peter Deans, a third-sector specialist, worked with our Chief Officer, Chair of Trustees, and Marketing and Communications Officer to explore how the Trust can measure and monitor its impact.

We hope that a better understanding of our impact will help improve our effectiveness in delivering truly worthwhile projects. Moreover, continually evaluating our impact will help us prioritise which projects to pursue in order to best fulfill our objectives. Here's a summary of our impact over the last five years. 

Ouseburn Trust impact summary in inforgraphic form

If you have a minute to spare, please complete our impact survey. Your feedback will help us get a better understanding of where our work matters and where we need to focus our efforts.


Read our full 2020-2021 Annual Report